SOMERS POINT - Kyle Gerace needed to step off the pitching mound and compose himself in the first inning Tuesday morning.
There was reason for concern. The bases were loaded with no outs in this Babe Ruth Middle Atlantic Regional quarterfinal. Gerace, of the Atlantic Shore 14-year-old baseball team, had allowed two singles and hit a batter.
"I thought I was going to be in a jam the whole game," Gerace said. "But I took a step off the mound and started to get focused."
Gerace struck out the next three hitters with his fastball and did not allow a run. Atlantic Shore went on to beat Cecil County, Md., 11-0.
Atlantic Shore advanced to Tuesday afternoon's semifinal, in which it beat Washington Township 4-1 in nine innings.
Gerace dominated Cecil County hitters after the first. He allowed just one more hit and finished with five strikeouts in four innings. Gerace's three strikeouts to end the first inning motivated his teammates.
"It pumped us all up," Atlantic Shore's Matt Thomas said. "It carried us through."
Atlantic Shore took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Thomas belted a fastball for an RBI triple.
"It was right down the middle," he said. "I saw it and jumped on it right way."
Atlantic Shore broke the game open with eight runs in the fourth inning. Cody Sadreameli knocked in two runs with a single. Gerace, Thomas and Nick Droboniku (3-for-3) each had an RBI single. Jack Loefflad hit an RBI double.
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